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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
1999 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews - As Posted on RAMD!

Reviews On This Page Were Last Updated on Monday, July 20, 1999

Page Seven of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Sunday July 18
Waterbury, CT (DCA)

I was impressed with the Skyliners on several fronts. First, they got an awful lot of mileage out of a little horn line. They sounded really good for their numbers. Second, they played music that is arranged very well, both technically and for the smaller corps size. This is something a lot of small corps have been unable to do. Third, I missed them last year and it is really good to see that they still have that Skyliners sound and flavor. I think they will do well with continued work on what they have.

Wow. I don't know if it was the heat or what, but the first third of the show was a mess. I don't think two people attacked notes at the same time. Very disjointed and somewhat painful to listen to. Then the final piece (One More Time?) and the soloists blew me away and the corps came together. The final piece was so much better than the beginning. Maybe the beginning is too aggressive for the lines abilities? I don't know.

Nice music, nice drill, nice everything. The drums didn't seem to be up to what in my mind is Bushwacker standards. Overall, one of my favorites for technical challenges and damn hard music.

Nice show overall. The drum line kicked some ass in the solo. Very nice. My biggest problem of the show was with Sunrisers. Here it is...Sunrisers have one of the finest color guards in DCA. And I mean they are damn good at what they are doing. But, why are they dressed in those appalling uniforms? Does someone think they actually look good? I am personally opposed to any part of a drum corps being made to look bad. And those uniforms make them look bad. I would hope that this is changed soon.

I am very biased on this one. THEY RULE! The horn line kicks butt (Go mellophones!). The drum line kicks butt (especially the bass line...they are incredible). The color guard was awesome. Best show in DCA! YEEEE HAAAA! They won!

Well that's all I have.

Jeffrey Dutton

I had the pleasure/misfortune (only cause of the heat!) of catching the DCA double header this weekend - here are some thoughts.....

Hurcs - nice show - much better than last year - great guard - nice total package - horns need to play a little better - but not too bad - drums - ok I guess - congrats on the WIN in Waterbury! I think you might have been better in the heat of Sunday!

Bush - I thought better on Sunday than Sat - again, go figure with the heat?!? Horns did a great job - the unison licks are really coming together nicely! Guard is also very good - a little dirty - - DRUMS - COME ON NOW - you ARE the Bushwackers - the standard setting drum line of DCA - please get better! NICE SHOW OVERALL - much improved over last year as well - and earlier too! KEEP IT UP!

Sun - WHAT AN IMPROVEMENT - rumors of your demise are greatly exaggerated! VERY NICE PACKAGE! GUARD IS AWESOME(whats up with the uniforms though?!? and the DM uni - yikes!) Anyway, the Drums Rock - Horns getting better by the minute - but they gotta march & play TOGETHER! The only horn line to have people bumping into one another! Speaking of marching - the drill is VERY hard to read due to holes in the horn line - maybe too much for you handle?!?. IF you guys beef up the numbers and get the brass to march & play a little better - you will do some damage! Keep pluggin' away! A very nice program - one of the better packages!

Brigs - HUGE - LOUD - ENTERTAINING - Congrats on the WIN! ......but I was not as "amazed" as everyone said I would be? I like Channel One - very early BD - but could do without HArlem Nocturn and even more so, hated MERCY x 3 - and that big aircraft carrier of a prop - TOO MUCH - better things can be done with your money - now that I have trashed the corps - heres whats good -GREAT BIG HORNS SOUND & Nice GUARD - visual package is nice too! Drums - OK i guess - just kinda there! great solo sops - pit needs to chill a little on the OVER selling of the program - kinda distracting! I think that Brigs will do very well come Allentown and will see the top 3 again - but not the top 2!

Cabs - nice product - the show fits well with the Kings of Latin image! You guys even manage to work in the rumps tastefully - bravo! JIMMY RUSSO IS THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SOWBIZ! The horns & Guard are very strong - drill is a little cluttered at times - but the use of the props works well! The drums have to be better if the Cabs wanna play with the top 3 - Empire, Bucs & Brigs - Sun & Hurcs have better lines! Get to work! Knowing the Cabs, they will be in the hunt come Labor Day - and they ALWAYS perform well on Finals night!

So - I hope no one was offended by my honest commentary - i tried to put in good and bad! I think that BUSH , SUN and HURCS will make the battle for the 6 - 10 spots VERY interesting - maybe more so than the fight for the top spot - which the READING BUCS could take, but they will have to fight pretty hard to take it from EMPIRE

- let the battles continue.......


Saturday July 17
Denver, CO (DCI)

I was there. It was a GREAT show. I didn't get to see any of division II (damn parking was awful). So, I will start with the Troopers!

Troopers- After seeing their show last year, I felt sorry for them. This year, they have made vast improvements. Their horn line is getting stronger, and the percussion sounds much better. Good job!

Next up COLTS---- WOW. This show is probably top ten material. The guard is great, and drill is amazing, and the percussion is doing very well. This evening seemed to be full of falling horn lines..... Colts were the first one. They had a mello fall during the percussion break. Nice recovery, though! More than I can say for the Cadets! (more on that later) They had great horn moments, very loud, and balanced. I actually had them a bit closer to Phantom in score.

Phantom Regiment- Well, I loved the show. My only problem is that it didn't have any moments that made me say "wow." It was very well designed, and the guard is doing much better. The horn line was GREAT. They had great balance and power. I didn't pay much attention to their percussion section.... I was busy watching the horn line, doing some great drill. Their visual program was very good, they just have some more cleaning to do in that aspect.

Blue Knights- Okay, I am biased. (at least I can admit it), but this years show is great. The guard is doing wonderful things, and they once again had the prettiest flags there. Percussion section is great. Ralph wrote a great book for Trittico. No falling horn members here either!

Cadets- Okay, here is where it gets interesting. The opening statement was GREAT.... awesome flag work and loud brass hits... then it all went downhill. During their "death spiral" thingie, there was a major wreck.... one person down, then two, three and then four.... There may have been five, but I couldn't see them very well in a mangle of horns, shakos, and people. Two of the players didn't recover until after the big halt and they started moving. Otherwise, this was a great show. Would have been much better without the falls.... ironically, that is all I can remember now. In the very end, they had two more falls (seperated from each other, though)

Santa Clara- Loved this show. Great moments. Didn't care for the guard uniforms, though. All I can say is, this show deserved to win.

BD- Okay, the guard is kicking some rear. That's all I have to say about BD. No, just kidding! Percussion was awesome, and the horn line was okay. Seemed like they had some phasing problems tonight, but maybe that's just me.

Sorry the reviews for SCV and BD are so short! It's late and I have to work tomorrow! Well, I stayed for SCV's victory concert, of course! We got right up in front, and got our ears blown off. They are LOUD. After they played their show, they played Send In the Clowns. How emotional. I cried, and I don't have anything to do with SCV. Great show. I only have one complaint.... the announcer SUCKED. I mean, really badly. He kept on talking straight through corps on field warmups, and said some of the stupidest things I have heard in a while.

Okay, I'm going to bed. This is the first time I have done this, so I hope I didn;t do too badly (except for the part about not writing much for BD and SCV, sorry!) Great show, congrats to the Blue Knights! Broke the 80!


A great night of drumcorps last night...great stadium, great weather (almost some thunderstorms).

The mile-high concessions people have a hell of a nerve...$3 for a 16oz soda and NO lids/Straws!!

Chien Kuo high school band...from Taipei in the Republic of China - from an elite (a student body of 10,000 is "elite"?) high school. Impressive when you consider that almost all members have only 2 years of training.

Northern Lights - When they played loud, I wondered if this is what drumcorps is going to sound like with concert key instruments. I didn't care for the color guard uniforms. I just don't like seeing guys wear tight body suits on the field. The only equipment I need to see is the flags and rifles.

Cascades - strange show picked up toward the end. Some have called it an "oil rig" , I think it looks like a cross between a tv antenna and the Eiffel Tower. Horns put out some nice sounds but need to learn their limits - I hear too much overblowing.

Allegiance Elite - A cute show based on "Bye Bye Birdie" which seems more like a band show to me. A good band show, but a band show. They use wooden cubes a la BD's dice with a telephone dial painted on them. I laughed wondering how many of the members even remembered telephone dials! (then I cried cause I do!)

Vanguard Cadets - I like this show, and this was SCVC's final appearance of the year. I wish they would go to Madison, because last night there was still a lot of cleaning left to do.

Troopers - This corps should be competing in Division II. It is neither a loss of pride nor a source of embarassmen to have the corps compete where it can do some damage. The classic Trooper's entry onto the field, from the endzone, into a block along the 50, starts a show I really liked. "Billy the Kid" is a story-telling show, and I think this corps does a good job. Horns sometimes try to put out more sound than they can control, but there are many parts which sound nice. There are a lot of nice visual elements, and hopefully will be cleaned up for a good showing in Madison. For those of you unfamiliar with the Orchestral piece, Billy the Kid has a looong drawn out closer. I was wondering how they would handle it, and the arrangement comes out really nice. They close with another block along the 50, however the mellophones are unwisely placed in front. This corps is a personal favorite, rain or shine. I couldn't help but hold back the tears during the sunburst. The drum major, in solid black, must be the best dressed DM in drumcorps.

Colts - There is no way a corps this good isn't going to make finals. A good look on the field, good but still unclean drill - especially towards the end, and a very talented hornline make this show a winner. I think they may be a bit too generous with the horn visuals. They have a good colorguard and they make good use of it. The sound is very rich, powerful, for the most part well balanced, and I like the music they play. I'm looking forward to seeing this show cleaned up in Madison....on Saturday.

Phantom - hot and cold. The sound, for the most part, it pure Phantom. However, there are moments when I can hear loss of control, loss of balance. I think the show has lots of potential, but still a lot of work to be done. The color guard is very good.

After the Blue Devils and before retreat (full corps), I went outside for a smoke and some shopping. The stands were separated from the other area by a series of narrow gates. A PR member and I approached the gate at the same time. I back away and said "excuse me". He walked through the gate and said "excuse yourself". It's really hard to want a group to do well when something like happens and makes me want to say "happy 10th place, asshole." Forgiveness is an act of grace (amazing grace?), so I will cheer for them in Madison and hope they realize their potential. I know some of you won't believe this happened, but I have no reason to lie.

Blue Knights - Very impressive. The hornline puts out a great sound, lots o f volume with mostly good control. The color guard amazed me. They were using these groovy psychedelic flags, kind of like something JoAnne Worley would wear on "Laugh-In". I blinked or looked away for a split second and they had these other really nice zig-zag flags. Did I miss something? I thought they moved cleaner than the Cadets, and that the gap between the two should have been narrower.

Cadets - I loved this show. It really does have a New Yawk feel. The color guard is amazing, and they look great in their dark blue. I'm really looking forward to seeing it later. But what went wrong? Is there a lot of new stuff in the show? An off night? The horn line sounded nice with lots of power (the opening!! WOW!!), but I heard way to much overblowing, lack of balance, and intonation problems. The corps did not move well tonight - at the collapsing box there were 4 or 5 falls. There were phasing problems, interval problems, lots and lots and lots of posture problems. The placement and the gap in scores was correct.

Santa Clara Vanguard - magnificent. I hadn't seen the closing drill before, and they repeat a collapsing box from Barber. Some might not like repeating, but I think its a good way to close the show, and to get a 2nd look at a great move. The new cg uniforms are not as ugly as I had feared, the I prefer the black. They're still doing the dance steps during the ballad, which some don't like. I think they're well done and appropriate to the music. But let's give credit where credit is due - when they use equipment, they did a hell of a job!! The drumline amazes me. The guys in the cymbal line must be closer than brothers. The hornline puts out tons of sound, and didn't lose balance or control of their sound quality. Someone near me said a contra fell during the closing block, but I didn't see it.

Blue Devils - A close 2nd - I thought they might actually score a little closer. The percussion opener is nice, but I'm still not sure about the Ginasterra piece. The rest of the show just cooks. The horns sounded great, and the color guard is just phenomenal. There is still some cleaning to do in the drill.

They announced the names of all the judges, including a guard judge, but no guard or any caption awards were given out. I did, however, get to watch the Cadets Colorguard perform at retreat. It was quite annoying, and I heard negative comments about it from people all around me. The massed corps played "America/Oh Canada", then SCV gave an encore of their show and then "Clowns".

This was a great show, and I thought every performance was enjoyable. My prediction for Madison - I don't think SCV will have it easy, but I think they have the package, the talent and the drive.

Don Davis / Long Beach, CA

Here are some lingering thoughts from DATR and earlier west coast shows (I tend to remember more bad stuff than good stuff):

It was a beautiful evening for a show. Earlier in the evening there was lightning and a strong threat of thunderstorms.

It was nice to see them alive. Their show was entertaining but noticable weaker than the other Open Class corps.

I enjoyed their opener. It was a strong, fast, recognizable number. They seemed to be pretty strong (good horn fullness) but not clean.

Right out of the gate the lower horns blew their opening entrance. Very bad phasing on a powerful isolated attack. I like their opening number and their closing number, but the middle of their show drags. Too many ballad and mid-tempo numbers. Phantom still has very significant marching problems. I do not expect to see them in the top 6 this year.

Blue Knights:
This is a tough one. I can appreciate that they are trying to present a sophisticated show. It is clear that their show has depth and is well executed. I just find it very dry. How does a Corp decide whether to go with difficult, dry music in to hope of being taken seriously (and move to the next level) or to entertain the audience (and unfairly get slotted in the middle of the pack)?

I really enjoyed the unique sound of opening musical statement. I was also enjoying a deluxe opening drill move ... until the train wreck. They were doing a rapid spiral compression, when some of the inner people lost it. It looked like 4 or five horns went down. It took so long for a couple of them to recover that I thought they were hurt and were not getting back up. They eventually did. It really hurt the beginning of their show. The drill was designed to focus everyone's attention right on the spot where where the kids went down.

I have to take a second to mention that I was extremely impressed by the Cadet guard, particularly the rifle line, especially in the first half of the show. They had some exciting moves, some hard moves, and were very tight. In my opinion they stood out as a massive plus.

The rest of the show was standard Cadet stuff. Hard, well done for this time in the season, but a little unexciting (from a jaded person's perspective). Note worthy was an extended multi-tenor solo that was impressive and entertaining.

Thing were going along and heading for a big finish when ... boom crash, another train wreck. I couldn't help flashing back on Whitewater a decade ago when the Cadets had a train wreck during the Z-pull and recieved a perfect marching score. I was pretty sure they weren't going to get a perfect 10 in marching this time.

I have to admit I was surprised by the 3 point spread. I figured the Cadet's marching problem would account for no more than .5 max. I thought scores were going to be a lot closer and I know they will be in the future. The next week and a half will be very interesting. I don't think the politics will let the gap last long. I wouldn't be surprised to see the gap close to less than a point next show regardless of deserved scores.

Santa Clara:
It is hard to judge. I'm not an objective observer. I thought they were musically tight and marched a difficult drill well. From the corner of my eye, I did see a Contra get up after a fall, but it wasn't in a drill focal point like the Cadet falls were. The Soprano soloist choked at the start of the second number, but I don't think you could tell unless you knew the music.

I like Santa Clara's book a lot. I personally find it a lot of fun, except for the ballad. I still find the ballad a little vanilla, although it is starting to grow on me. I also have mixed feelings about the ballad's modern dance guard work. When I first saw it last month, I liked it. I thought it added forward energy to the number that was lacking in the music. However, I am starting to have second thoughts. Maybe the negative comments of others are getting to me.

I also don't have the problem other do with Blue Shades. I feel that the song is a mix of straight and jazz interpretations, with the straight parts providing a strong tie to the previous parts of the show and with the jazz adding some fun.

Go Vanguard.

Blue Devils:
What's up with their horn line? For the first time in years they sound mortal. For the majority of the show they sound loud and full, but every once in a while I hear an unsupported horn part that almost sounds like a bottom six hornline. I don't have as much of a problem with the phasing problems as I do with the balance problems. In several parts of the show the articulated music lines are being buried beneath block chords.

At least they have solved the problem at the very start of the show where the drum line was vastly over powering the hornline (which was playing back field). The horn line no longer plays at the beginning of the show.

I like almost all of Blue Devils book, with the exception of the start of the closer. I find the beginning of the closer a little too beep, boop for my taste.

I like the look of their drill. It is very open a readable compared to the Cadets and SCV. However, it does not seem as difficult (cross throughs, rapid shape changes, that sort of stuff). The guard is good, but I think the Cadet guard may be better.

Caption Awards:
I'd like to make a point about caption awards. How much legitimacy is there in awarding the brass and percussion awards based exclusively on the field execution marks. Based on those marks BD won both captions by .1 , despite the fact that SCV beat them by .4 in GE music and .5 in ensemble music. I think from the crowd's perspective (ensemble and GE) the best horn line did not win the horn caption. I don't disagree that the field horn score should be a significant part of the award, but I think it is misleading to not work in the upstairs marks.

Mike Bertram
Garfield 78-79
SCV 80-82

By chance, I was seated directly next to Mike Bertram (see his DATR review below) and his wife, and he pretty much said what I wanted to say. But I have a few comments that I'll share.

First off, I want to say that I am SHOCKED by Don Davis' story about being insulted by a Phantom member. I believe you Don, as I'm sure you would have no reason to lie about that, but I'm going to do my best to chalk that up to one member's grumpy mood and HOPE that it's not the attitude of the entire corps. I know a super nice kid in Phantom's pit and she's not like that at all. I'm sorry you had to deal with a nasty attitude like that but perhaps he'd had a really bad show personally and he took it out on you (unfortunately). Whatta bummer!

Anyway, I missed Vanguard Cadets and Troopers (sorry, I ran out to the parking lot to say hello to my "adopted kids" in SCV whose busses were arriving) so I won't be commenting on those two corps. In addition, this show was on Saturday, and now I'm back in my office in Santa Clara on Monday going solely off of a two-day old memory. So, if I am sketchy with certain corps, it's just cuz I'm old and my three or four remaining brain cells may have fallen out on the plane ride back to CA.

Taiwanese HS Marching Band - Hey, these guys are much improved over the last time I saw them......was that 1997?......and they have new unis too - BD clones but in maroon and gold. Nice stuff! I couldn't believe it when I read that the student body of the school is 10,000+ and that the majority of the kids in this group have ZERO musical training upon entering the band. Wow - GREAT job Gary Brattin et. al. for turning out a really quality program - probably one of, if not THE best of it's kind for high schools in Asia.

Northern Lights - another good youth band from up in the Portland, OR area. I really enjoyed seeing Channel One Suite on the field again (it's been a while.....what, about 13 years?). Good drum line too! I found out they are also headed up by a BD alum, Mike Anderson, and taught by several of my fellow SCV horn alums, Kary Etherington and Brian Bailie. Nice job, this is my second (?) viewing of this group, and I like 'em a lot!

Seattle Cascades - Tonight was the fourth time I've seen this show. Athough a bit small in the hornline, I think the corps itself marches and plays well in all areas. The guard is very effective and has some nice work and equipment. Unfortunately, I just don't "get" the idea behind their Dawning of Technology show. Overall, the corps is solid and I hope they can expand the horn line a little for some even bigger power next year.

Allegiance Elite - I think they were doing music from Bye Bye Birdie. It was a cute show, and I liked it. It entertained me, which is sometimes what I really want more than anything else at a drum corps show. I have never seen this corps before.

Colts - WOW, I really liked these guys! Now, two days later, I just remember that they had a cool show, great horns and drums, but unfortunately try as I may I can't remember more specific details than those after only one viewing. However, I do remember that I can't wait to see them again in Madison, I liked them that much!!!

Phantom - I spent the afternoon watching them rehearse in Lakewood, so I felt familiar enough with their show to form an opinion after seeing them in uniform in the evening. As everyone else seems to be saying, they are good, but not really great. They're not "vintage" Phantom. To me, it looks like there's a lot of rookies out there - some beautiful moments but also some moments that lack confidence in the form of some bad musical stickouts and marching problems that one wouldn't normally see in a Phantom show in mid-July. However, I liked their show a lot - it's not boring at all, as some have said. I hope they can continue to improve and move up a placement or two in the standings by finals. Oh yeah, and where some corps go for clashing colors in guard unis, I thought Phantoms color-coordinated guard unis and flags were beautiful!

Blue Knights - THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME! I think they were my favorite corps of the evening! They have the most unique and gorgeous flags. Drum line TOTALLY rips (yeah Ralph!!!) and I could see these guys battling it out with a couple of other contenders for the 6th place spot come finals. It's also nice to see how the hometown crowd is fanatically behind them and rooting them on. I also like the newer shade of darker grey this new? Haven't seen the corps since about 1996, so maybe it's old. Oh well!

Cadets - I was really looking forward to seeing these guys and they did not disappoint. I felt SO badly when those kids were falling down, down, down one by one. I hope no one was hurt. I loved the show - it's really unique and produces some cool sounds that I didn't hear in anyone else's show. Unfortunately, I felt like the show went downhilll slowly from beginning to end, and does not end nearly as exciting as it starts out. I thought they were dumped in scores though. Three points doesn't seem right to me......maybe 1.5......but what do I know? Hate the retreat antics though.....please lose them and line up in a boring block like everyone else.

Blue Devils - I, like Mike Bertram, have a hard time with these guys winning high brass. They are wonderful, but very mortal (as Mike said) and with all the timing problems and muddy soprano licks, I couldn't believe they won that caption! I've seen them four times now and have yet to see them do a solid performance without phasing problems. However, the show itself is a total kick - it's fun and exciting and much more cohesive that I initially thought in my first two viewings of the corps. Drum line is really hot, but I'm a huge fan of aggressive, ethnic drumming. Love that aspect of the show! However, based on the Cadets history of coming on strong, I think they're going to end up peaking out and ending up in third place by finals, much like last year. Only time will tell though.

Who is that little tiny asian girl on timpani? She KICKS ASS!!!!!!! I hope she does I&E cuz I'm gonna be there rooting for her. For those of you who haven't seen her, that girl can P-L-A-Y and she's maybe 4'11" and 95 pounds soaking wet!!!!!!!!

Vanguard - Clearly the winner tonight with a very strong performance in all areas (horns, drums, visual, GE). They should have won high brass but what's .1 between friends, right? Oh well! If they hold it together like I know they want to and think they can, I think they'll win number 6 come August 14......finally!

The victory concert was so loud! I cried during Clowns, first time in a long time even as an alum. I was watching Ray Velarde again, and when he started crying, I lost it too. Spoke to some of the SCV kids in the parking lot afterwards. They're confident but careful so I'll keep my fingers crossed. Until Madison, ciao for now!

Martha Garcia
SCV 1984-1987

Friday July 16
Cumberland, MD (DCI)

I drove to this show just to see what all the hype was about the Gmen. Well ladies and gentlemen, good they are, but I'm afraid this will not be the year they'll beat Cadets, SVC, BD and while I'm at it, Cavaliers. Something's missing? The guard almost seems non-existent (get rid of those colored rifles). Nice drill design and of course strong drum line. Horns play well and at times their marching technique makes them look like a carbon copy of Cavaliers (JMO). But a good show. I'm glad I got a chance to see them before Allentown. Oh, almost forgot, even Gmen are marching wholes.

General Butler Vagabond with their 18 horns did a very nice job with Les Miserables. Very entertaining. Thank you.

Blue Coats have seen better years. They finally got rid of those poles. What were they for in the first place? The guard is not as strong as in past years but you gotta still love Bluuuuuuuuuuuuu. They'll clean their act up to make top twelve (I hope).


Crown. . .Well I've said enough about Crown. I just love this show. They were a little off tonight. When that happens watch the guard, they will keep you occupied. You Go sabers, I love watching you guys/gals spin. Here's something for the kids to nibble on, I think they will catch and beat Crossmen come August.

Crossmen. . .For the most part they looked really good tonight, then you saw where they made a few changes to the drill. Small bumps but no major collisions. Colorguard is getting really confident and it's showing.

Magic. . .I'm calling Magic the bubble corps. One night they're up, the next, down. Boston really wants in the top twelve and if magic doesn't pay attention. . .well you know the rest of the story.

I'd like to thank those two gentlemen next to me for talking during the whole show. There's nothing worse than poor drum corps commentator(s).

A Fan of the Arts

Let me start off by stateting that it was too difficult for me to take any notes during the shows because of how crammed the bleachers were. IT was hard enough concentrating with the ignorant people behind me talking THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE SHOW...sorry had to get that out.....anyway...this is what I took home from the shows:

General Butler Vagabonds:
This is my first time ever seeing them..I was really impressed...I guess because I haven't seen many division 2 or 3 corps I wasn't expecting them to be very good..boy did they proove me wrong....the show ( les miserables ) was entertaining, demanding, and done very well...some intonation problems in the brass and phasing problems between the battery and pit percussion...but was a very well written show...I'm not very familiar with the musical but its seemed to have all the selections that the cadets used in 89 plus some tunes that i had never heard before.....the guard impressed me very much....all tosses were tight and well executed....overall there was a lot of creativity within the entire corps....I do have one question though if anybody would happen to know..In the percussion feature the tenor players switched to traditional grip for a few counts played for a while and then switched back....any reason for this??.....what would that accomplish??....anyway.....I loved the show.

Magic of Orlando:
Wow....once again...they had me grooving...I'd seen them last in Hershey which was there first performance after all the bus mishaps..there they seemed to be a bit worn down....tonight however.....that was not the case.. the opener grooves so bad it hurts.....I absolutely love the opener....the corps as a whole was on....I mean very on....they still have a lot of cleaning to do...mostly with marching I think...I saw the drumline warming up before the show....I was impressed..they were very very tight..of course it was just warming up....but anyway...the lines performance in the show was just as tight...the little drum breaks rock....brass solos tonight were solid and brass as a whole was LOUD..louder then hershey I'd say....and at hershey I was in the front I was 3rd from the last...and they STILL seemed louder..anyway to sum it all up....I'd say for magic this year...finals is no longer a hold you breath situation... it seems so far like there back on track...I really hope this show makes it in....I can't wait to see them in Allentown...I want to see how far they can take this show.....It still has room to grow..and I think it will.

Spirit of Atlanta:
At I said before..I was in the front drill moves weren't the easiest things for me too see....after the scores were annouced..I couldn't understand why Spirits scores were soo I saw why..the show really needs to be cleaned...I'm sure it will be by finals...I really hope they make it in..I love seeing new faces in the big show....this is another corps that has a grooving show...the opener is awsome...they totaly spell out whats gonna happen....all of the brass stands in front of the pit ...horns come up...and with the first note they try to blow your face off...they don't try to hide it....or conceal it at all and thats what I like about it....most corps try to sneak in the big chords...which is cool don't get me wrong..but to see the horn line just standing there waiting for the sign to just let it rip is awsome.....the show overall is very good...but like I said before its sloppy....I have no doubts that their staff will be able to clean it up...but will they get it to finals level...its hard to say....I hope they can do it...its a great show..the ending gets me everytime...they fake the ending and I mean totaly fake the point where the bottom bass drummer is tapping off the field......all the corps lines up and starts heading out...the drumline starts moving out and then all of a sudden you notice that the pit starts playing....I must say...thet got me again...I was enjoying their show so much that I forgot about it from seeing them a hershey..oh well....honestly..I don't really understand why they do it...maybe its to give the fans that don't want them to leave a second dose.....hey i don't mind....the last tune rocks....down and dirty blues.....awww yeeaaa.....I love it...... anyway....the corps overall had a really good was to hard for me to compare if they were better then hershey or not....all I can say is that with cleaning...they can be in finals...easily..oh the way...Spirit gets the hottest guard award of the so I'm a guy...shoot me.

I hate to say it...but for the first time in a long time...I wouldn't be suprised if good ole' bluuuuueeeee coats don't see finals in 99.....their chick corea show totaly loses me...I mean totaly...I wish I could blame it on the old guy behind me who WOULD NOT SHUT UP DURING THE WHOLE SHOW... for distracting me...but I can't...the opener and closer do have clear message of what the coats are trying to do..but the middle sections of the show just don't make much sence to me....the music just doesn't sound like chick corea..I know it is...but...the only way I can describe the music is that its dark and ugly...not ugly as in bad...or not played well...but just ugly...if you haven't seen them yet you'll understand when you me....the show still needs some major work..the poles are gone that the guard was useing the first half of the season.....and there are a lot of drill changes...I just don't know if they'll get in to finals..I hope they do..I love the bluecoats..well only time will tell I guess...

Carolina Crown:
The more I see this show the more it grows on me....I liked it from the start...but I wasn't very familiar with the jeckyll and hyde music so it kinda lost me a hershey I thought the show was cumberland it looked even cleaner....and I'm gonna say this without any has the most beautiful ballad I've heard all year....even the old fart behind me shut up so he could is soo beautiful...the flags during that piece fit very well with the just all fits together in their ballad..the whole stadium grew silent seemed like everyone was in awe....defineatly a goosebump for the rest of the show.....what can I say..its pretty I said before....I'm not very familiar with the many parts of the show lost me..but overall the show was very very clean....I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I would not be too suprised to see crown in around 8th 7th or 6th at finals....the show has the potential of being that good.

My favorite corps of the year so far....I love the uniforms...I love the darker music.....and boy.......the horn line is far as the drum line me wish I could run out there with them....the drum break is phat with a capital PH....the guard is clean and very very good...seems like they have a very well rounded corps.....I love the overall sound of crossmens line this year...especially the are they tight.....if your looking for jazz with the crossmen your not gonna find nearly as much as last year......but your still gonna like the show....its a fan friendly show without a doubt....opener wasn't as tight as hershey...but still very well done....from the vantage point I had tonight (or last night at this point) I could see that there was just a little cleaning to do..but it'll be done I'm sure....anyway...the corps was ON tonight without a doubt....I look forward to seeing them and magic in allentown.

Two'll happen this year....the show is clean...loud..and good....personally I like it better then last years.....this is the first time I've seen them all year so I was just taking everything in...another well rounded corps...some people are suggesting that they'll be contender for the championship this year....well...I have seen the cadets...and as of now...I think they have the better show.....but who knows what'll happen between now and madison.

And I must comment on the Glassmens stand still see I walked down to the very bottom of the stadium to get as close as I could to the I always do....and this time ...the drum major came up from the field and stood right next to me to conduct! was soooo cool...I used to be a drum major for my high school marching I kinda got a taste of what it woulda been like to conduct an open class rocked....and was that pit girl checking me out??...I hope so!!!

Also one other little note....being a drumline guy....I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that after every show each corps drumline played its cadence when they passed in front of the was soo awsome...why don't corps do that more??....anyway....Crossmen had my favorite cadence tonight too....just wanted to share that.....oh yea...and where was the cadence during the retreat at hershey?? was too damn quiet.....anyway...hope you liked the review....its only my second time ever doing one so if you've got any suggestions (besides spelling mistakes..sorry I typed this fast) please let me know!



Madison, WI (DCM)

Tonight's home show for the Madison Scouts was interesting. It was supposed to be a 8 corps show, but only the first four went on due to a rainout.

This show was not scored (Keep in mind this is a Madison Scouts show, do they even need judges?) The show had "celebrity" judges from local TV stations in there were no scores.

On to the corps...

I saw Madison practice earlier in the day. Their run-through was very good...this was my first time seeing Madison this year, and it was a very entertaining show. Horns I thought were balanced, the drill is very strong at points, and there are impact points that are great. In the show, the ragtime portion, which almost everybody on this NG seems to hate, is very good. It adds comic relief. I really don't see the objection in it. The only problem I have is, the guard is not as strong as the rest of the corps, in my opinion. The flags and choreography are off at times and it is noticable. But, it's the Scouts, as always, they are entertaining. Their show probably will not be a champ contender, but do the Scouts care? No.

The show itself...

Americanos-Their show is Zorro this year, and they perform it. There are muddy spots in the drill and horn line, but they perform the show. Basically the entire shwo could use some light cleaning. Their company front has good music going, but after it, it's like an anticlimax, i don't like the last bars of the show. It needs to be changed, with the exception of the last few chords.

Capitol Sound-They had off for the entire week before the second tour. (Off meaning no shows OR rehearsals) I thought the show was pretty good...some of the drill (esp. the straight line sets) did not look good. Like their older brother, the Scouts, they do a good job at entertaining the crowd.

Cinci. Glory-Their ten horns (2 sop, 2 mello, 4 bari, 2 contra) sound like about 7 horns at times, but can sound like 20. I noticed that the balance in the horns was good. Their three snares were nice. With a corps of about 40 members, i thought they did an admirable show.

Boston Crusaders-WOW. Great things are ahead for Boston. They will make top 12 with their show. Horn line is good, the only problem i have is the balance; the sops sometimes dominate. Guard...well, they were clean and amazing. Drumline was average. SOme of the drill needs cleaning, and the music is muddy at times. But, this was a very entertaining show. Best product Boston's placed on the field in awhile.

At the intermission, a major storm came in, and after about a 40 minute rain delay, the show was cancelled. The Scouts were pumped up, and they started getting the crowd to cheer. After a few minutes, the Scouts started pulling their pit equipment out, and the announcer said there would be a Scout performance. After the crowd went crazy, the U of Wisconsin officials said that there could be no show because of lightning. Boo.

One more thing...Pioneer did a standstill of their performance by their buses after the show was cancelled. It sounded like their hornline was strong this year.

Mike Fedyszyn

Wednesday July 14
Lawrence, KS (DCM)

Here are the scores (and a few thoughts) from the Lawrence, KS show.

36.4--Memorial Lancers
These guys were great. They played a jazz show (don't remember the exact music), and had a good time with it. I thought they sold the show very well for their size. Had a couple of good soloists, too. I love to see groups like this that go out and give it their all, regardless of their size or talent level.

42.1--Marion Cadets
They went on first, and the crowd wasn't really into them. With just seven horns though, they do a pretty good job. The props they use to frame the field work well to give them a larger presence.

59.5--Les Etoiles
Every year, this corps does something out of the ordinary. This year, their pit is on different sized scaffolding on the left side of the field. The bottom of the scaffolding is open, and the rest of the corps marches in and around the structure. Later, the guard climbs to the top and does a little "dancing". Kinda cool, but a useless gimmick. Last year (and the year before), it was the spinning drum rack, this year it's the "pit-on-a-scaffold". What's in store for next year? I honestly do not remember much about their program. I believe that the program said it was an original composition called "The Ice Storm".

60.3--Blue Stars
I had not seen the Blue Stars for quite a while, and was pleasantly surprised. Their drumline seems to be playing fairly well this year, and their horns sound good for their numbers (I believe they had 20). Once again, they went on early, and the crowd didn't really get into them. Too much talking going on around me for me to really concentrate on the show.

74.2--Boston Crusaders
Wow, these guys are serious this year!!! This is certainly the best corps that I've seen from the Crusaders in quite a while. The drumline plays very well, and they get a huge horn sound. I thought they sounded fuller than Phantom did, and they handled some tough runs pretty well. I recognized some of the music as Alfred Reed, and the opener should be familiar, as I believe the Cavaliers played it back in '92. Long time fans should be able to catch the hint of "Conquest" in the closer. Makes you want to hear more of it. All in all, a very pleasing show---possibly my favorite of the evening.

This show is a departure for the Colts this year. I don't really know how to describe it. No jazz, no in-your-face rock 'n roll, just some great symphonic music. Other people have compared it to Phantom, but I don't agree. Their drumline seems to be playing more than in previous years, but seemed to suffer tonight after coming off of a 3-day break. My one complaint is with the closer, as it just doesn't seem to fit will with the rest of the show. I've been told that this will be fixed, though. Good show, and one of the best corps that I've seen the Colts produce.

79.4--Phantom Regiment
Last year, everybody complained about Phantom being bad, and I just didn't get it. No, they were not as good as in previous years, but the only thing lacking last year was their visual program, in my opinion. This year, everybody's been comparing them to last year. Once again, I don't agree. I think that this is a great corps. The opener is in-your-face with some great soprano runs. I think the hornline sounds great again this year, and the drumline was solid. My one complaint is that the show had a lot of down-time. There just wasn't enough drive to the show for me. Just when it seemed they were gonna crank it up a notch, they settled back down into a leisurely pace. A good portion of their music was some of the same stuff that the Blue Knights played last year, so it should be familiar to hear. I just wish they'd arranged the show with a little more power to it. Overall, it's a great show---it just doesn't grab me like I want it to.

81.4--Madison Scouts
Kansas City is a Scouts town. Plain and simple. Every time the Scouts come to town, people go nuts. Tonight was no exception. From the moment they walked onto the field, the crowd ate up every note and every step. Their production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" is very good, but I'm afraid that it's not a championship show. Even if they were the best corps at Finals, this show wouldn't be the best. It just doesn't seem to have that same fire that I'm used to seeing with the Scouts. That's not to say that it isn't entertaining, because it is. I'm not a huge fan of this particular Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, but after tonight, I'm gonna have to dig out my recordings and give it another listen. The Scouts are the Scouts, and whatever show they do, they do it with energy and showmanship. I can't remember a year when I wasn't entertained by the Scouts (okay, I can, but we won't go there--it's been a while, let's leave it at that). They're one of the few corps left who play to the fans, and the fans alone.

The horns are great this year (I'm not a horn guy, so I won't get too technical), but I didn't see them take any huge risks, either. They were definitely the loudest of the night, but as we all know, loud alone won't win you a championship. The drumline, although they look good, didn't impress me at all. When are they gonna play clean?? I'd love to hear another great Scouts drumline. It's been too many years since they had one.

I've heard complaints about the "ragtime" number in the show, also. I liked it. It gave an opportunity for some comic relief, and I thought it fit into the show very well. The last two sets (cross to star) were very cool, also. But let's end all comparison to '90 Star's closing drill right here. There is no comparison. While the Scouts' last two sets are cool, they are nowhere near as insane as Star's. In fact, the Scouts' drill morphs from the cross to the star fairly effortlessly, nothing like the craziness I witnessed 9 years ago from Star.

All in all, it was a very good show. My one complaint is that none of the corps really grabbed me and made me say "wow". Don't get me wrong, I was entertained, but I never once was totally amazed at anything. I hope that will change next week when I see SCV and the Cadets.

I thought that the show ran very smoothly, except for the souvie stand situation. They were kind of stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and people seemed to have a hard time finding them. I never did find Madison's stand, which is too bad, as I'm sure I would've spent some money there.

I guess now I'll just listen to my tapes of tonights show (Ooops, I didn't just say that, did I? I mean, it would be illegal to record a show, wouldn't it? :-) , until next week, when I'll venture up to Omaha, NE to see some more drum corps.


Tuesday July 13
St. Louis, MO (DCM)

The show was held at the University of Missouri- St. Louis soccer field, which was not a good site. First, the university is just a couple of miles away from Lambent airport, so every few minutes an airplane would drown out most of the corps. Second, the Metro Link is right off of the left side of the field. This wasn't too much of a problem, but it either took the attention off of the corps or would barely drown out some of the soft passages. Finally, the p.a. system was horrible. The feedback seemed to get worse as the evening progressed.

Before I write my review, I must say that I am only seventeen, so I'm not an expert. This was also my third time viewing a live drum corps show.

First off was an exhibition by the Show - Me Sound Winter Drum line. I marched with them in the '98 winter season. They have a lot of newer, but talented, performers. The music is really beginning to come together, and they'll be a very entertaining group to watch at WGI Finals.

Delta Brigade: First group to compete. Nice brass.

Marion Cadets: I've heard some good things about this corps. They really go out there and perform their hearts out. Their brass really held their own. Their drum major was either conducting or twirling in the guard. She must have done a great job because she earned the Best Drum Major caption.

Memorial Lancers: I have much respect for this group. They may not have a lot, but they went out there and performed! Their mellophone soloist went out there and held the crowd in the palm of his hand. The drum line played as if there was no tomorrow. One fo my favorite things about this group was the fact that they used some visuals from Black universities such as Grambling, Southern and Howard (since this is an all black corps, I'm glad to see them using ideas in their show that they can relate to; I wish more corps would do the same).

Cincinnati Glory: Their drum line put out some sound, but overpowered their brass. I didn't care for their music.

Boston Crusaders: I have never seen them before. They impressed me greatly. Their opening brass statement filled the stadium with some serious sound. The guy in the guard twirling the sabre must have taken some of that stuff Mark McGwire uses to increase his strength because he launched that bad boy into the stratosphere numerous times! I truly hope that they make finals; it would be nice to see them on t.v.

C.B.C.: Good God! This was my first time seeing them live, and I loved them. I tried to catch the drum line while they were in the lot, but couldn't find them. So, I settled for the guard warming up behind the stadium. They are TOO good! Their rifle line performed an exercise where they performed a one-handed spin 100 times while performing some type of dance poses. I'm not into all of the ballet and interpretive dance, but they were too good. I tried to watch the percussion and brass during the show, but I couldn't take my eyes off the guard. There is a move in the opener where a guy launches a rifle in the air, a girl gives him a huge bear hug, and he catches the rifle while she's still hugging him! (it sort-of reminded me of a rifle move from '93 where they tossed the rifles in the air and caught it with their leg). Their brass was excellent! From what I've heard, their brass usually doesn't play with a lot of volume. They were so loud that they drowned out a jet flying directly above the stadium. Many people are surprised about how the Cadets run around the field, but I wasn't really shocked. I'm used to seeing some WGI percussion lines, and all that they do throughout their drill is jazz run. (Like I said before, I'm obviously not an expert, but IMO I think that one can get used to running and playing; I did in marching band, but obviously not to the extent that the Cadets do). From my vantage point, I couldn't see what the drills looked like, but near the end of a song they looked as if they were executing the winding block move they used at the beginning of their '98 show. I think that the music is very melodic, and is definitely easier to "get into" compared to last year's music,but it's hard for me to describe after only hearing the music once.

Phantom Regiment: I truly love Phantom, but this show left me feeling disappointed. It seems sort of flat. The thing that I am really left feeling down about is their drum line. They don't play enough notes and they remain tacit too long. Phantom focuses too much on brass, but I think that they should also include the drum line in the scheme of things. Yes, they have always been known for their outstanding brass, but I think that they should show off the drum line. Have the percussion caption head give the drummers in the corps and in the stands some meat; we're hungry!!! I guess I was expecting to relive their '96 show (before this show, it was the only time I've ever seen them live). If you are going to perform classical music, make it interesting. Not everyone can get into it. (IMO, they should look to the Glassmen and back to their shows from the 70's to truly see how a drum corps can make classical music interesting.)

Les Etoiles: My first time ever seeing them. They were great! I don't like the scaffold. It's an eyesore. The prop is not only physically dangerous, but it seems as if it can hurt them visually. The brass mainly stays on the right side of the fifty yard line. I was surprised at the amount of sound that their entire corps can put out.

Other than the airplanes, trains, and feedback from the p.a. system, it was a good show. I hope it's at a better venue next year.

C.J. Hall

Monday July 12
Bowling Green, KY (DCI)

Let me say first scores aren't important, can't be and shouldn't compared corps to corps and certainly not show to show with any real measure of reliability and validity. They are not included in this review.

However, placements have some (albeit very little) importance, reliability or validity. I have included them.

My vantage point was on the 50, 10 rows up (the blast zone) for obvious reasons this will be mostly a musical review.

SOUTHWIND (bronze)
The first corps to perform was KY's own Southwind. They presented a clinic (their first ever DCI Clinic) to several hundred fans who braved the heat and humidity of the afternoon. They also have the distinction of going on early most of 2nd tour. This their final performance of 1st tour and they are taking a 5 day break before returning to the bluegrass. The show has improved much since my last viewing on 6/22. They march with more confidence, and their visual execution has improved greatly. American Salute remains a solid opener. They woke the crowd up tonight with the first notes from the 62 member brass section and didn't look back. KY Suite has an interesting guard feature with derby bonnets, bugles calling to the post, and colorful flags looking like racing silks. The show ends with Summon The Heroes. The drum line is quite good, with and exceptional bass line. The battery staging is very well done constantly flowing visually and enhancing (featuring) the different musical textures. The guard brings ot large sunset flags during the final push (company front). Standing ovation tonight. The first of many for the evening.

TARHEEL SUN (virtual tie for runner up -.2 pt)
I love the yellow uniforms. They remind me of the Seneca Optimists, especially with the gold sunburst on their chest looking like a parachute. Unfortunately, from a distance of more than a couple yards, they are identical to Southwind. However, in the battle of the yellow teams, Tarheel Sun was not going to going to be a photocopy. They had a very crowd pleasing and enjoyable show. Lots of TRF (Tune Recognition Factor). Good sop soloists and a 14 member pit that is the envy of other corps. Their show stars with Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. A subtle link in the depicts the passage of a day from sunrise to sunset. They have taken a risk with a "down" ending to their show, but it proved to be very effective and enjoyable. Great music, fine arrangements, and 10 Contras out of 49 brass provided a great foundation for the ensemble.

LES ETOILES (runner up)
This show played to both audience and judge. The pit is elevated by several large scaffoldings. I think they actually provided a better acoustical balance with the 21 brass, by moving them away from the front sideline. The guard also utilizes the scaffolding. Let's hope their aren't any OSHA officials on the DCI Tour. The brass book suffers in the TRF dept., but is well balance and blended. They were very effective with dynamic and ensemble cresc. and dim. I want to know where the pit found a half barrel pitched in G! More good sop soloists! It was a quality performance.


A bus accident left Boston unable to perform. This reviewer was very disappointed. I had heard of great things going on in Boston. My hope and prayer is for a speedy recovery for the injured, and a chance to see them in Madison.

Uniforms were black with the tinniest of red accents. The colors set the mood. Phantom delivered the emotion. The brass section was wonderful. 14 contras provide a finished basement for that house! I almost didn't notice the sopranos slap tonguing the multiple articulations. Even with my dislike of that particular articulation method, it was uniform. The guard uniforms remind me of a fire in the girls hearts burred in the chest and fading to silvery smoke and then black at the extremities. They feature some great saber work and great usage of color to enhance the music and a silent "rockford file" leading the way for a reentry from backfield side 1. Aside from the gasps from the crowd resulting from a head on contra collision and a mellophone sideswipe during the closer it was a Great Show! Everyone was back in a spot by the completion of the move.

Their show is a quasi NY theme, based on contemporary music (read low TRF). Cadets bludgeoned the audience with visual and acoustical effect. The traditional Cadets head bob is still happening with about 20% of the brass line. The plume on the shako is used as a counter weight during certain individual visual segments. They make it look hard, because it is. I could never perform that show. Mia Hamm couldn't perform that show! Physically, it amazes the audience that musicians can run and play at the same time. The brass is super tight. The opening statements feature these percussive chords. The impact is so complete, in tune, balanced and blended, with each attack having the TQ of an exploding steam boiler. There is nothing quite like the sound of tearing metal?! 11 contras put out a big, but unblended sound. George should bite the bullet and buy some good instruments (in G, all the same brand please). The first half of their show is much cleaner than the second. This is to be expected, since the ending with probably be changed several more time before finals. They will be great in Madison. They already are.

Shaun Owens

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